A casual coffee lover’s review of the AeroPress

I like to think that it is a function of my age rather than my popularity that I got only one birthday present this year! If I stretch the concept a bit, it was announced on my birthday that Formula 1 coverage was moving back to the BBC. But not even I am egotistical enough to believe that Bernie Ecclestone would arrange such things for my birthday.

Anyway, the present I got was from my brother. He got the hints I dropped (before Christmas, mind you) and bought me an AeroPress coffee and espresso maker. (Apparently he almost bought me a Stylophone, which would have been even cooler.)

I first heard of it on Boing Boing TV.

As much as anything else, I thought the mechanism was just ingenious. It would be great enough as a toy. The amazing thing, though, is that the reviews are right — it makes a great cup of coffee. It has a very smooth taste — probably the best coffee I’ve been able to make at home.

I normally use one of these mugs that act as their own little cafetière. This is an improvement over instant, but sometimes coffee granules escape through, leading to a mouthful of grit. It can also sometimes taste quite bitter.

The other method I use is an automatic drip-brew coffee maker. The cool thing about this is that it has an alarm timer on it, so if I have an early start I can be really lazy and lie in for five more minutes while the coffee is made for me. The disadvantage is that it doesn’t taste all that great, although it’s difficult to put my finger on what is wrong with it. Also, these things are not labour saving in the slightest in the long run. Preparing them beforehand and cleaning them afterwards is a faff I could really do without.

I am not a coffee geek. I think if I started to research coffee too much I would become like one of those audiophiles who get fleeced into buying expensive snake oil in the fruitless search for perfect audio. Nevertheless, I take note of anything that promises a better coffee, especially if it is gimmicky.

It did take me a couple of goes to get the hang of the AeroPress, but in the end it has turned out to be quite a fuss-free method. The best part is that the clean-up process is so quick and easy it just feels wrong. You just push the plunger all the way out, and out plops the coffee in one clean ‘puck’. You just need to give the bottom of the plunger a little rinse and that’s it, all set for the next time you want to make coffee.

There are a couple of downsides. One is that it needs a filter. The AeroPress comes with 350 filters, but you can re-use them several times. Some have even reported re-using them up to 20 times, which would make the package good enough for 7000 uses. Not bad.

Another thing is that it seems, from my perspective, to use up an awful lot of coffee. The scoop that comes with it is rather large compared to other scoops I have used, yet the coffee that is produced still tastes about the right strength (once the espresso produced is diluted to make an Americano).

I imagine if I used the AeroPress more than my other methods of making coffee, I would soon find myself spending a lot more money on coffee. On the other hand, the taste is worth it. Maybe it would be best for me to use it as a kind of luxury, like having an occasional glass of wine or something. Sundays, special occasions, tough days and so on. It also looks like it would be excellent if you are travelling.

If you like coffee, I’d definitely give the AeroPress a shot. It only costs around £25.

4 comments

  1. It’s nice to find a coffee maker that works and gives you an end product which actually tastes good. I gave up on instant when I was at school, and started using a cheapo plastic cafetière at university, before graduating to an Italian stove-top espresso maker (and the burns and blisters which followed if you didn’t take care).

    My current squeeze is an espresso machine with shiny chrome and steam nozzle which cost me all of £40 in Currys in Dundee. I’d gone in armed with more money than sense and with the intention of buying a Gaggia machine or similar, but came back with something every bit as good but a tenth of the price. Given the high street price of coffee and the amount of the stuff I drink, it probably paid for itself after a fortnight… and the house smells great too 🙂

    We revived an old percolator which hadn’t seen battle since the 1970’s for our family’s Christmas lunch this year. Maybe they’ll be due for a comeback once the current latte craze passes…